Open City Documentary Festival

24th–30th
April 2024
across London

Expanded Realities showcases innovative works of non-fiction made outside of conventional filmmaking technologies. This year’s programme includes formats including, VR, video games, interactive films and audio. Also included in the exhibition is a showcase of expanded realities projects being undertaken within UCL and In Focus: Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, marking the first time an expanded realities artist has been the subject of an In Focus programme at the festival.

The exhibition is free to attend and is based at our Festival Hub and is open from: 

Thu 7th Sept, 11:00 – 17:00 
Fri 8th Sept, 11:00 – 17:00 
Sat 9th Sept, 11:00 – 17:00 
Sun 10th Sept, 11:00 – 17:00 
Mon 11th Sept, 11:00 – 17:00
Tuesday 12th Sept, 11:00 – 14:00 


 A South Asian Queer Pamphlet 

Soumya Mukhopadhyay, Cherrypix Movies| 2022 | India | Variable runtime (15’ minimum) | Interactive web film | sound, English text 

This installation presents a vision of queerness that is defined by performance and rooted in South Asian culture and history. The viewer is led through a warren of lanes in Kolkata by the artist Kaur Chimuk to a traditional printing press where they create a word using a queer alphabet. Each letter is tied to a key term in queer culture and corresponds with a short performance by Chimuk relating to that term. The performances that the viewer sees, and the order they see them in, is defined by the word they select. At the end, the viewer can print and take a hard copy of their pamphlet. 

 

Atuel 

Matajuegos | 2022 | Argentina | Variable runtime | game | Spanish spoken, English subtitles 

Atuel is a surrealist documentary game in which you travel through dreamlike landscapes inspired by the topography and wildlife of the Atuel River valley in Argentina. Over the course of the game, the player shapeshifts, taking on the form of different animals and elements of the river’s ecosystem, creating eco-centric perspectives that invite you to reflect on the interwoven relationships between life and the water that nourishes it. Real life interviews with specialists and locals form a collective narrative about people’s intimate connection to the land they live on and the effects of the global climate crisis. 

 

Control Negative 

Monika Masłoń | 2022 | Poland | c. 25’ | Interactive VR | English spoken 

Adopting a range of features available on new VR headsets, the project immerses the viewer into a world where the control over their environment they have come to expect is subverted and taken away. Through a series of black-and-white scenes, Control Negative exposes the forms of agency that we have come to take for granted in our lives and the frustration, anxiety and alienation that results when we find ourselves facing when our ability to determine basic elements of our experience is removed. 

 

Grandma’s House  

David Gardener | 2022 | Canada | 5’ | VR Film | English spoken  

Grandma’s House is an animated VR film that delves into the realms of memory and dementia, presenting a poetic exploration of recollected moments spent at grandma’s house, where the boundaries of time blur and confusion takes hold. As the film unfolds, memories gradually lose their clarity and coherence, mirroring the disorienting effects of dementia. The animated scenes depicting these memories grow increasingly peculiar and surreal, reflecting the bewildering journey through the depths of the protagonist’s fading recollections.” (David Gardener) 

 

تنها صداست كه می ماند (Only Voice Remains: Making Collective Prophecies) 

Only Voice Remains | 2022 | UK | 61’ | Audio | Arabic, English, Farsi, Kurdish spoken, English subtitles 

Formed in response to the feminist revolution taking place in Iran and Kurdistan, Only Voice Remains are a collective who seek to amplify strategies of resistance against the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This sonic montage compiles a range of sources including voice notes, poetry, protest recordings and music taken from an open call and sourced online. The piece acts as an archive of the movement and its vital force while also serving as an instigation from which further resistance can grow. 

 

On The Way to Colonus 

Loukia Alavanou | 2022 | Greece | 20’ | 360° Video | Greek spoken, English subtitles 

Oedipus at Colonus, the last of Sophocles’ Theban plays, recounts how, disgraced and exiled from the city he once ruled, Oedipus seeks refuge in the town of Colonus. Millennia later, the site of Colonus, on the Western fringes of Athens, remains a place of exile, now for Roma communities who live there in deprivation. Initially presented as part of the Greek Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia 2022, Alavanou worked with the area’s Roma residents to produce and film a new participatory performance of, and response to, Sophocles’ play, reflecting the grandeur of Greece’s cultural heritage against the country’s current social inequalities.

Montegelato 

Davide Rapp | 2021 | Italy | 27’ | 360° Video | Sound 

The Montegelato waterfalls in central Italy have for decades been used as a filming location, with the site playing host to scenes ranging from youthful romantic hideaways to Western standoffs. Taking clips from hundreds of films that have made use of the location, Rapp creates a spatial montage where genres and histories are layered over one another. The resulting spectral model of the location is a palimpsest of its presence across a collective cinematic imagination and serves as an ode to the human need for storytelling.

With the support of the Italian Cultural Institute London.

 


UCL Showcase 

Our Expanded Realities UCL Showcase presents work developed by students and faculty from departments across UCL, demonstrating the range in which VR is utilised for research and storytelling at London’s global university.  

 

Beyond the Fog  

Zixiao Sha, Weiyun Duan, Qianyu Xiong | 2023 | UK | 20’ | Interactive VR | English spoken  
Beyond the Fog is an interactive VR film that tells the story of Jana Nelson as she comes to terms with her dementia diagnosis and navigating life with the disease. Developed by students on UCL’s Immersive Factual Storytelling MA.  

  

Embodied AI: Virtual Reality and Generative Models for Personalized Virtual Assistants 

Daniele Giunchi, Ben Congdon, Nels Numan | 2023 | UK | 15’ | Interactive VR | English Spoken 

Embodied AI, developed by UCL’s Virtual Environments and Computer Graphics group, combines virtual reality with generative models like ChatGPT to provide you with embodied digital helpers. You and your helpers can interact through natural speech and work together to solve challenging puzzles, providing a fascinating look at the relationship between humans and AI. 

 

Taste of Memory 

Trini Krpan, Yizhi Wang, Xie Qinxin | 2023 | UK | 8’ | Interactive VR | English spoken  

Told through the perspective of James, a synesthete, Taste of Memory, is an animated VR project that invites the player on a gustatory commute across London’s underground. Developed by students on UCL’s Immersive Factual Storytelling MA.